Now that the growing season is over and your garden has been committed to the compost bin, it’s time to put away the gardening tools and head inside for the winter. But for many of us in the South, we can’t give up gardening that easy. Luckily there are methods to extend our growing season into winter.
One way to extend your garden’s growing season is by planting cold-hardy plants.
If you’ve ever planted Brussels sprouts before then you know that they can survive well into winter. In fact, Brussels sprouts can live up to six weeks after the first frost. Once it gets too cold you can dig the plant up and bring it indoors.
Broccoli and cauliflower have never been fans of harsh summer heat. These plants thrive in the fall and can even last past the first snowfall.
In the winter, sugars in the carrots act like a natural antifreeze that protects the plant from freezing. Plant carrots in late summer and harvest them throughout the winter. Carrots are a hardy crop. The tops can stand temperatures as low as 18 degrees F but the root can survive even lower temperatures.
Potatoes, like carrots, are a root crop and are protected from the frost. It’s best to plant potatoes 4 weeks before the last frost in the spring. A new crop will be ready in as little as eight weeks. Keep planting throughout the year to ensure you have a steady supply into winter.
Leeks are not sensitive to the change in day length like other members of the onion family. They will keep growing in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Believe it or not, many tender greens we use in our salads are actually very cold tolerant. Some, like arugula, grow really well in cold weather. Greens are easy to grow in the winter because they take up little space and can be moved wherever you need. Plant them in your window planters, plant them in your cold frame, or just plant them in your garden.
Herbs are easy to grow almost anywhere. Indoor herb gardens are an increasingly popular way for people to have fresh herbs on hand. Plant herbs in windows that get plenty of sun.
Think about it, your sunroom is just a more comfortable version of a greenhouse. If you find you don’t use the extra room, you could turn it into your own personal nursery. Sunrooms and enclosed porches are perfect for growing large vegetables like peppers and tomatoes. They are also handy for starting seedlings early so you are ready to start your garden in the spring.
Cold frame gardening uses the power of nature to allow you to plant crops directly in the ground even when there’s a foot of snow. There are many different types of cold frame designs but the simplest and most popular one is a wooden box with a clear hinged lid. On clear winter days, the sun will naturally heat the air in the cold frame. You can regulate the temperature by lifting the lid and venting.
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